Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
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Following a heavy rain on April 2-3, 2017, several homes in the Mill Creek Place Subdivision in Rankin County, Mississippi flooded and were damaged. Several homeowners, whose homes had been damaged, sued the County for failing to properly maintain Mill Creek, which is adjacent to the Mill Creek Place Subdivision. Rankin County filed a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint. The trial court granted Rankin County’s motion, finding that Rankin County was immune from liability—specifically discretionary function immunity—under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The homeowners appealed, arguing that Rankin County is not immune. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed. Taking all of the allegations of the plaintiffs’ complaint as true, Rankin County’s alleged failure to maintain Mill Creek was a case of simple negligence, and "such maintenance decisions do not involve policy considerations." The Court therefore determined the trial court erred by dismissing the complaint based on discretionary function immunity. View "Moses v. Rankin County" on Justia Law

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The mayor and board of aldermen of the Town of Leakesville, Mississippi adopted an ordinance extending and enlarging the boundaries of the town. The Greene County Chancery Court found Leakesville’s annexation request to be reasonable and entered a decree approving the annexation ordinance. Ollie Mae Clay, Crystal Collins, Christine Holloway, Jimetra Holloway, Voncile Holmes, Latiana Jones, Briggett Peters, Jacques Smith, Martin Ray Smith, Marcia Taylor, Clifton Thomas, Glenda Thomas, Jimmy Washington, and Pinchey Woullard (“Opponents”) appealed, contending the chancellor erred in his findings on seven of the twelve reasonableness factors, and that the chancellor’s findings in those areas were manifestly wrong and not supported by substantial and credible evidence. Find that the chancellor’s approval of the annexation request was supported by the record, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Enlarging, Extending and Defining the Corporate Limits and Boundaries of the Town of Leakesville, Greene County, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Tippah County Board of Supervisors abandoned a public road, then rescinded its decision a year and a half later without giving notice to the owners of the land on which the road was located. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded that doing so violated the landowners’ due-process rights, so it affirmed the circuit court’s order voiding the recision order. View "Tippah County v. Lerose" on Justia Law

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The Jackson Redevelopment Authority (JRA) leased several parcels along Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi to the Farish Street Group (FSG). In exchange for a long-term lease and other favorable terms, FSG was given a set period of time to renovate the properties and to sublet them to retail establishments. Watkins Development, which owned half of FSG, contracted with FSG to do the renovations. The plan was to build an entertainment district on Farish Street, but after a few years only a fraction of the renovations were done, and none of the properties were occupied by tenants. JRA terminated the lease, and this litigation followed. The Chancery Court ultimately found that the lease was properly terminated, that no party had shown it was entitled to money damages, and that Watkins Development could not take a mechanic’s lien on the property. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Watkins Development, LLC v. Jackson Redevelopment Authority" on Justia Law

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From 2007 to 2014, the parties employed significant resources in litigating “the rights of the various parties as to Nicola Road, a [Mississippi] county road that allowed the various property owners access to Highway 603.” Jourdan River Estates (JRE) prevailed in that litigation, securing much-needed access to Nicola Road for the purpose of developing its 269-acre tract of land and constructing hundreds of condominiums. “[T]he seven year delay has been costly for” JRE and Jourdan River Resort and Yacht Club, LLC (Yacht Club). In December 2011, JRE and Yacht Club sued Scott Favre, Cindy Favre, and Jefferson Parker - neighboring property owners who opposed development - for damages, asserting fifteen different causes of action. All of the causes of action were based on the allegations that defendants delayed development of the condominium complex. After years of protracted proceedings, the circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of defendants. In its order, the circuit court divided its analysis between JRE and Yacht Club, disposing of each cause of action by: (1) applying the statute of limitations bar; (2) finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claim; or (3) utilizing the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which immunized defendants from tort-based liability for having petitioned the government. The trial court denied defendants’ request to apply judicial estoppel to all of the remaining claims. JRE and Yacht Club appealed the order granting summary judgment, and defendants cross-appealed regarding the court’s application of judicial estoppel. During pendency of the appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court sua sponte requested the parties address the issue that JRE, a foreign limited liability company, was not in good standing with the Mississippi Secretary of State prior to filing its complaint. The Court found that the parties waived the issue. Thereafter, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of defendants, but reversed and remanded the court’s application of judicial estoppel. View "Jourdan River Estates, LLC v. Favre" on Justia Law

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The Lamar County Mississippi School District denied a request by Smith Petroleum to erect and construct an LED advertising billboard on its Sixteenth Section leasehold located on Old Highway 11 in Hattiesburg. Smith Petroleum filed its Notice of Appeal and Bill of Exceptions with the Chancery Court of Lamar County. The chancellor affirmed the School District’s denial of Smith Petroleum’s request to erect and construct the LED billboard. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court. View "Smith Petroleum, Inc. v. Lamar County School District" on Justia Law

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The Adams County, Mississippi Board of Supervisors (Board) designated Mount Airy Plantation Road as a public road, placing it on the official county road register in 2000. John Seyfarth petitioned the Board to abandon the portion of the road that dead ended into his property. He alleged that people were using the road to reach his property and trespass on it. The Board declined to abandon the road, denied Seyfarth’s request for damages, and did not address his requests that the Board take action to abate the nuisances he experienced. Seyfarth appealed to the circuit court, which affirmed the Board’s decisions not to abandon the road and not to award damages. But the circuit court ordered the Board to reasonably abate any nuisances to Seyfarth. Seyfarth appealed the circuit court’s ruling to affirm the Board’s decision not to abandon the road and not to award damages, and the Board cross-appealed the order that it abate any nuisances. Because Seyfarth had no remedy on the record before the Mississippi Supreme Court, it affirmed the circuit court’s judgment affirming the Board’s decisions declining to abandon the road and declining to award damages. But because, on this record, the Board had no legal authority to abate any nuisance in the manners suggested, the Supreme Court reversed and rendered the circuit court’s order mandating that the Board abate any nuisance. View "Seyfarth v. Adams County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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The Chancery Court of Coahoma County granted in part the petition of the City of Clarksdale, Mississippi, to annex land situated in Coahoma County that surrounded the city. Coahoma County appealed, arguing that the chancellor manifestly erred by finding that the annexation was reasonable. Clarksdale cross-appealed, arguing that the chancellor manifestly erred by finding that its annexation of certain land situated north of the city was unreasonable. Finding that the chancellor’s decision was supported by substantial, credible evidence and was not manifestly wrong, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Enlarging, Extending and Defining the Corporate Limits and Boundaries of the City of Clarksdale, Coahoma County, Mississippi v. City of Clarksdale" on Justia Law

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Landowners David Neil Harris, Sr., Vecie Michelle Harris (“Harris”) and Clyde H. Gunn III filed suits to confirm title to their waterfront properties in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The State, Jackson County, and the City of Ocean Springs (the “City”) asserted title to a portion of the same waterfront properties claimed by the landowners: a strip of sand beach located south of a road and a seawall. After a full trial on the merits, the chancellor found that the State held title to the sand beach in front of the Harris and Gunn properties as public-trust tidelands. The landowners appealed, but finding no reversible error in the chancellor’s final judgments, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Harris v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Shortly after the adoption of its comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in 2014, in June 2015, the City of Ridgeland (“the City”) adopted an amendment creating as a permitted use in general commercial (“C-2”) districts a Large Master Planned Commercial Development (“LMPCD”). The amendment allowed uses previously prohibited in C-2 districts and created an opportunity for the potential location of a Costco Wholesale (“Costco”). Appellants were residents of the City who lived in nearby neighborhoods; they appealed the City’s decision, arguing that the amendments constituted illegal rezoning and/or spot zoning. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that because the City amended its zoning ordinance shortly after adopting a new comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in order to accommodate Costco, substantially changing the uses previously allowed in a C-2 district without showing a substantial change in neighborhood character, the amendments constituted an illegal rezoning. In addition, because the amendments were entirely designed to suit Costco, the amendments constituted illegal spot-zoning as well. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in finding that the Costco amendments were not arbitrary and capricious. View "Beard v. City of Ridgeland" on Justia Law